Aadhaar Entries Not Conclusive Proof In Criminal Cases: Allahabad HC [Read Judgment]
"It stands demonstrated that in case a person relies on entries in Aadhaar Card in regard to address, date of birth etc., on the basis of the Aadhaar Card, under the Evidence Act it cannot be said that the entries in those regards are conclusive proof of those facts."
The Allahabad High Court has observed that entries in Aadhaar Card indicating address, date of birth etc., cannot be regarded as conclusive proofs in criminal cases.
The bench comprising Justice Ajai Lamba and Justice Rajeev Singh observed thus while considering a petition filed by a couple, who had approached the court seeking to quash criminal cases filed by girl's mother against the boy and his family. Before the court, they had produced Aadhaar Cards to prove that they are of a marriageable age.
As it got curious about the date of birth mentioned in Aadhaar Cards of the petitioners, the court had sought response from UIDAI. In this case, the date of birth of the boy was indicated as 01.01.1997 and that of girl as 01.01.1999. The court said that, in this particular case, the age assumes relevance as the petitioners relied on entry of date of birth in Aadhaar Card to show that they were of marriageable age.
The court also noted that in a large number of cases before it, Aadhaar Cards declare the date of birth as 1st of January of a particular calendar year, and in some cases only the year of birth is given. The court then arraigned UIDAI as a respondent and sought its views as to whether Aadhaar Card would be evidence of date of birth/age or not.
In its affidavit, the UIDAI stated that, if a resident does not have any valid supporting date of birth document, date of birth is recorded on the basis of declared and approximate date of birth. In case of approximate date of birth, the age is verbally communicated by the resident to the operator and ECMP client calculates the year of birth, and by default, consequently, the date of birth is recorded as 1st January of that calendar year. It also said that the Aadhaar (Targeted delivery of financial and other subsidies, benefits and services) Act does not mention that Aadhaar can be accepted as proof of date of birth.
Taking into account these submissions, the bench said: "It stands demonstrated that in case a person relies on entries in Aadhaar Card in regard to address, date of birth etc., on the basis of the Aadhaar Card, under the Evidence Act it cannot be said that the entries in those regards are conclusive proof of those facts. If question in these regards arises, the source of giving date of birth etc., are required to be verified in the process of investigation in criminal cases."
The court said that, even though, regulations provide for the applicant to rely on a set of documents for giving information in regard to name, address and proof of date of birth, however, because the said information is merely given by the applicant, and is not authenticated by UIDAI at the time of authentication, the Aadhaar Card cannot be conclusive proof in regard to those entries.
In this case, the investigating had verified the age of the girl through Ossification Test and the results concluded that she is aged 17. The investigating officer gave a margin of two years on the higher side to the bone age and concluded that she had attained age of majority on the date of the incident. The court said that it approves of this practice in verifying the age through Ossification Test in case of dispute regarding age of a witness, complainant or accused.
The bench finally quashed the FIRs against the boy and his family observing that the girl had neither been kidnapped nor abducted.
Calcutta HC Questioned Non Verification Of Declarations Made During Aadhaar enrollment
Earlier this month, the Calcutta High Court had questioned non-verification of declarations made during Aadhaar enrollment. It had observed that it is arbitrary to allow one sort of information establishing the identity of an individual to pass without verification during the Aadhaar enrollment process. Justice Protik Prakash Banerjee had remarked: "There is definitely something amiss with the Aadhaar enrollment process if important demographic information such as the name of an applicant's father, as is the case in hand, can be falsified and even go undetected."
Delhi HC and Madras HC Views
Last year, the Delhi High Court had held that Aadhaar card can be considered as a proof of age for the purpose of Rule 7 of the Juvenile Justice (JJ) Rules. The High court had disagreed with Madras high court view that, since in the Aadhaar card, only year of birth is mentioned and not the date of birth, it cannot be taken as a document to prove the date of birth of the detenue.